NORMAN — It’s no secret that we journalist don’t get paid a lot of money. Instead, we get rewarded by telling stories and meeting new people. Most of the people I’ve interviewed have stayed in my heart and thoughts for several years. Many of them have become dear friends. Some of the people I’ve encountered while jotting down every word they tell me have even changed my life. That’s something that I know I’ll never see on any paycheck.
Talk to any reporter and you’ll hear all of their war stories about assignments they’ve been given that they didn’t want. I’ve got those, too. But I’ve also got the stories that stick with me forever. One of those stories is Ransom Hardesty.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Hardesty family in September. As soon as I walked into their beautiful Norman home, I felt like I was a friend. Their warm hospitality and calming nature put me at ease for our first meeting. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about meeting Aimee and Clint, after all, I wasn’t there to discuss happy things. I was there to share their story about their 4-year-old son Ransom who, last March, was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, a cancer of the liver common in men over 65. When doctors first told the Hardesty family Ransom’s diagnosis, they were shocked.
“I didn’t really think that cancer was remotely a possibility. He has always been healthy, apart from the allergies. Very energetic, rambunctious, very fearless,” Clint said during our interview.
For about a year little Ransom Hardesty fought hard. His family tried everything possible to help their warrior. They went to specialty hospitals, most out of state, and the family relied heavily on the support and prayers from the congregation at St. Thomas More University Parish and Student Center, their coworkers and bosses at the University of Oklahoma, neighbors and friends.
“The whole event challenges your understanding of God and his goodness. But it completely restored my faith in humanity. The things that people were doing out of support of Ransom and for our family were really amazing,” Clint said.
On the early morning hours of March 25, Ransom’s battle ended. From stories I’ve heard, up until his last days Ransom continued to be an inspiration to those closest to him. And I know he continues to be an inspiration to me.
In the past few days, I’ve reflected on the times I spent with Ransom. Our encounters might have been short, but to me they will last a lifetime. That September evening that I was at the Hardesty home, Ransom and his brothers, Athan and Ambrose, were outside playing. To Ransom, I was just a stranger who made him stop squirming long enough in the family’s dinning room to take a picture with him and his parents. I know that Ransom will never know how much his life, although short, touched mine. But one of the images I can’t get out of my head in these last few days is his sweet smile and his kind eyes. Even at his sickest, Ransom Hardesty never lost his smile. He was strong. He was courageous. His parents have said that Ransom Hardesty was the best of them. He was loving and kind.
I can’t help but imagine what this world would have been like if Ransom were given the chance to stay a little bit longer. But what I do know is that whenever life gets me down, whenever I think I can’t move forward, I’ll think of that sweet smile and those kinds eyes and I’ll do what Ransom did — I’ll carry on.